With emotions running strong, a 25-year-old Edmonton woman addressed a courtroom Friday afternoon, reading into the record an apology during the second day of a sentencing hearing in a shocking child abuse case.
“I want to say how sorry I am for what happened and how I failed these children,” the woman said.
She and her co-accused cannot be named to protect the identity of the victims.
“I hate myself for being a part of something so ugly and disturbing.”
The woman and her co-accused, 26, will be sentenced after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and unlawful confinement, after two siblings — aged three and six at the time — were found in an Edmonton basement in December 2017.
That’s when police responded to a home in northeast Edmonton to check on the welfare of five children. All, under the age of 10, were found in “a shocking environment and physical state,” EPS said at the time.
The children were taken to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Three were treated and released, while two sisters were admitted with serious injuries.
An agreed statement of facts stated the women hired a babysitter and went out partying. They told the babysitter their children were sleeping, but the sitter later heard knocking on a basement door that was blocked by a dresser.
She made her way into the basement where she found two bruised and undernourished little girls in dirty diapers, asking for food and water. The basement was undeveloped, with no bathroom and only a urine-soaked mattress, and feces strewn on the floor.
One child struggled to move because of their physical injuries, the court documents said. She needed plastic surgery for tissue damage to her hip and buttocks. One child had abrasions, cuts and scars across their whole body from a belt. And one required dental surgery to repair broken teeth.
On Thursday, Crown Prosecutor Jayme Williams called for a sentence of seven to eight years for each accused, suggesting they are both equally responsible for what happened.
On the second day of the hearing Friday, the lawyer for the mother of the two victims suggested five years, followed by two years’ probation.
Ajay Juneja said his client “was a victim of domestic abuse,” someone who experienced “difficulty in her youth,” who suffers from depression.
“She feels terrible for what happened,” Juneja told the court during his submissions.
When asked, his client declined a request to address the court.
The lawyer for the other woman, the mother of the three other children in the home at the time, is asking for four-and-a-half to five years, followed by two to three years’ probation.
Both women would receive credit for time already served.
Court heard victim impact statements on Thursday, one from the children’s caregivers, which outlined the children were scared, alone and broken. The caregivers said they hope proper justice is served.
A statement from the children’s case worker described ongoing counselling for the two victims. The case worker also said the older child is bright and cheerful and that the younger child is energetic.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Gaylene Kendell has reserved her decision.
The co-accused remain in custody.